The government says lions are endangered. Here's why that's a good thing.

Two subspecies of lions were just added to the government's list of endangered species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Dec. 21 that two subspecies of lion will be granted new federal protections as endangered species. One, found in central-to-western Africa and India, will be listed as endangered. The other, found in eastern-to-southern Africa, will be listed as threatened.

But it's actually good news.



Image via BBC.

This is a way for the U.S. government to put new restrictions around trophy hunting.

The government can't regulate what other countries do with their animals. So if countries like Zimbabwe want to let hunts continue, the U.S. can't stop them.

But the government can make it less appealing for Americans to participate in the kind of trophy hunts, such as the one that let a now-infamous dentist shoot and kill Cecil the lion earlier this year. His death caused an international uproar, which you may remember.

Now hunters will find it a lot harder to get any trophies they do kill back into the U.S. Many will be outright prohibited. Hunting permits will also be stricter and more expensive.

"The lion is one of the planet's most beloved species and an irreplaceable part of our shared global heritage," said Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "If we want to ensure that healthy lion populations continue to roam the African savannas and forests of India, it's up to all of us — not just the people of Africa and India — to take action."

As their new listing suggests, lions are having a tough time lately.

In the last 10,000 years, lions have disappeared from the majority of their historical range.

Image from Tommyknocker/Wikimedia Commons.

And it's not been any better in the last few decades. Habitat loss, hunting, and other threats have wiped out about 40% of lions over the last 21 years. It's estimated that less than 40,000 adult lions remain.

One of the places they usually receive some modicum of protection is in national parks.

That's why Cecil's case was so devastating. Cecil had been living in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe, where he was a bit of a celebrity and part of a group of lions that University of Oxford had been studying for years. But instead of being safe, Cecil was lured out of the park and killed.

This action gives lions the same federal protections that has helped save animals like the bald eagle from extinction.

During the 1960s, it was estimated that only about 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles were left in the lower 48 states. But the government took action, using regulations and other measures to protect the birds. The population bounced back, and now there are nearly 10,000 pairs in the contiguous U.S.

So hopefully, adding these kind of protections to lions might put them back on the road to recovery as well. Many lion cousins — tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, and cougars — are already waiting for them in the circle of protection.

Conservation groups petitioned the government to protect lions a few years ago, but the government says their decision was mostly based on new scientific data about lion populations and genetics.

This action will hopefully take a bit of the edge off the hunting pressure and help to keep lions around for a long time. Which makes me feel all:

Image from "The Lion King."

Most Shared
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular